Europe and the CIA’s Black Sites

It’s important to remember, as Congress tries to determine who authorized what interrogation practices and when, that the interrogation practices themselves are but one abhorrent component of a larger system of black sites, kidnappings and renditions. And as Amnesty International points out in a report released Tuesday (.pdf), American agents couldn’t have carried out that program without the assistance of various European governments:

The role of European states in renditions and secret detention has ranged from active participation to tacit collusion. European agents have arrested or detained suspects and turned them over to US custody without judicial process. They have directly participated in illegal apprehensions, in one case helping US agents to snatch a suspect off a street in Italy before his rendition to Egypt. Europe’s airports have been freely used by US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)-operated planes that have transported victims of rendition, hooded and chained, to interrogation and ill-treatment in secret incommunicado detention in locations around the world, including in Europe. European state agents have taken advantage of the unlawful detention of some of those held to interrogate them, while doing nothing to alert their families of their whereabouts or to try to remedy the illegal detention, itself a human rights violation. Investigations have established that between 2003 and 2005, Europe was host to secret prisons run by the CIA, where detainees who were victims of enforced disappearance were held in conditions amounting to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. (p. 1)

With a few notable exceptions (the Council of Europe and the European Parliament among them), European governments have been slow to investigate or take responsibility for their participation in the CIA black site program. Hopefully the American Congress’ investigation will serve as an example.